Coronavirus has had an impact on nearly every facet of our lives: job loss, work at home orders, restaurant shutdowns, remote schooling. And it’s not just the everyday that has been affected. What about those rituals? The rites of passage by which we mark the periods of our lives? Already, graduation ceremonies are being canceled, major sporting events such as the Olympics postponed, and, yes, the wedding industry has seen setbacks as well. The Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, New Jersey, for example, has canceled its wedding reservations for an 8-week period at a cost to them of $2 million.
With travel restrictions growing tighter, the elderly encouraged to shelter in place, and recommendations to limit gatherings of any kind, those of you who have planned your wedding for the near future or who are planning your weddings, may be wondering how to proceed. The answers aren’t easy as venues close their doors, as florists struggle to stay in business, and dressmakers find they can’t fulfill their stock, as caterers find they have to lay off workers and deal with tight restrictions on food service. This is a time then for patience, for creativity, for communication, and for a lot of extra forethought and planning.
When in Doubt, Wait
For those of you who can’t imagine not having the wedding of your dreams, the best option currently may be to wait. Now is the time, if you have plans in place, to start contacting vendors to assess where you stand. Like you, these business owners are struggling, but also like you they want to make the best of the situation. As one wedding planner reports, over half of her vendors have given their clients 100% refunds, and almost all have tried to work with customers to reschedule before negotiating cancellation for a refund.
Review your contracts for rescheduling, cancellation, and unforeseen circumstances clauses before contacting vendors. Start with your venue provider and then deal with other vendors. And remember that the sooner you make contact, the more likely you are to find vendors amenable to negotiation. Finally, don’t forget to keep your guests in the loop as you make changes.
If you purchased wedding insurance prior to widespread reactions to the coronavirus, you may be eligible to make claims. Be sure to check your policy though as some event insurance coverage only allows claims in cases of forced cancellation (i.e., the venue is closed).
If It Must Be Now, Get Creative
If you’re someone who has chosen a date with significance or if you simply can’t wait to be married, your nuptials may require a little more creativity. You will want to begin with some assessment, so you know how to move forward.
Start by reviewing your guest list and contacting those you’ve invited to see who would be required to travel long distances–air travel and hotel stays are more likely to hinder their attendance. You will also want to note those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly or anyone you know with a health condition who might be compromised. Increasingly, cities are enforcing shelter in place orders, so that might also become an issue as far as attendance. Once you’ve culled your list, you’ll know what options you might have available.
Some people, for instance, have chosen to have an intimate ceremony with only immediate family involved, opting for a larger celebration at a later date. Some have found more inventive options as in the case of the couple who held their ceremony in a parking lot where all guests attended in their own cars and celebrated by honking.
If you do find a venue or means that works for these unusual circumstances, encourage safety by setting up a sanitation station with hand sanitizer and bleach wipes. Remind guests to maintain safe distance and use elbow bumps as greetings–this isn’t the time for hugging, kissing, and dancing. You can always schedule a later date for a more full-contact celebration.
You should also know that hosting a private ceremony is a popular option. Use today’s technology to make it large scale. We’ve already seen examples of Zoom weddings where the ceremony is broadcast on the Zoom platform and attendees have their own supplies on hand to celebrate. If you want to get really creative, use some of the refund money from the wedding to send each guest a wedding favor to be opened on the Zoom date (although mail delivery may be slower currently).
If you find the prospect of setting this up on your own overwhelming, another option is to contact us today. We can not only stream your ceremony to guests, but we can also offer multiple camera angles and high quality video. Finally, a very simple option is to video your private ceremony and schedule a live celebration later where you replay the ceremony on big screen and in surround sound.
Whether you choose to postpone or to move forward in creative ways with your wedding plan, keep in mind that the ceremony is only one small part of a lifetime ritual. Your love will outlast a delayed celebration or the hazmat suit ceremony.
WE’D LOVE FOR YOU TO SHARE THIS IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE BUT PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING COMPLETE INFORMATION: Event Producer Strategist, Entrepreneur, Speaker, and Coach, Annette Naif, CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.
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About Naif Productions:
Naif Productions is a strategic event planning, design and production firm specializing in corporate, live coaching sales events, social, non-profit, and weddings. Based in New York City, we produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients and coaches to families and charities. Naif Productions specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.
About Annette Naif:
Since 1986 Annette Naif has been designing and producing custom events, helping clients create their unique style that translates into a memorable and profitable experience. Annette spent 17 years producing events in the motion picture industry where she helped coordinate numerous productions for film and episodic television programs. Since then Annette’s been running her own event production company, coaching other event planners, teaching an event operations and production course at NYU, and now is the CEO & Creative Director of Naif Productions.